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Set realistic workplace expectations for 2010

University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer announced at a news conference Dec. 27 that he is taking a leave of absence to deal with health issues.

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University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer announced at a news conference Dec. 27 that he is taking a leave of absence to deal with health issues.

What's realistic to expect as we enter 2010, still with double-digit unemployment, companies reporting worse-than-expected year-end revenue and employers' expectations of 24/7 commitment? • Clutching his chest, Urban Meyer checked himself into a hospital last month. It seems his work — coaching the Florida Gators football team — is stressful. Meyer has decided his goal for the new year will be to get more control over his work/life balance, putting his health first rather than coaching. He has taken a leave of absence.

For most of us, 2009 was the year we decided to put our work first because, frankly, many of us were happy to have work or we were fighting to keep our businesses from going under or desperately searching for a job.

Now, we want to make 2010 a different kind of year. Maybe we want it to be the year we climb the corporate ladder or build our business to a new level or land that elusive position with our dream company. Maybe it's the year we actually have dinner with the family a few nights a week.

But what's realistic to expect as we enter 2010, still with double-digit unemployment, companies reporting worse-than-expected year-end revenue and employers' expectations of 24/7 commitment?

I consulted coaches and other experts about typical career goals and whether they are attainable in 2010. Their answers should give you some idea what's realistic:

Get my career back on track. If you are not happy about the direction your career took in 2009, it's reasonable to think you can take it in a new direction in 2010.

Randall Hansen, founder and publisher of, says if you put off asking for a promotion, you may want to make it a goal to ask your supervisor for some proactive steps you could take to get recognition, or you could ask for a mentor. Hansen believes this is a good year to network within your company. He believes employers will give promotions in 2010, some will come with pay raises, most will not.

Secure a raise. In many industries, employees saw their pay reduced in 2009 as an option to layoffs. Career experts say don't expect a significant boost in pay in 2010, particularly during the first half of the year when the economy remains soft. Instead, you might want to ask for incentive pay — a bonus — if you reach your goals.

"Companies will be more amenable to pay for performance," says John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement consultancy.

Land a new job. We sat tight in 2009, suffering in silence while our bosses piled on the work of the two or three others who were laid off. Clearly, employers had the upper hand, but expect that to loosen up some later in 2010.

Timothy Tolan, a recruiter/senior partner with Sanford Rose Associates, says certain industries will take a long time but the job market is definitely turning. If you already have a job, Tolan advises putting the feelers out. "You have to have a mind-set that you are going to create opportunity, to be ready, be in the market."

Make a phone call to a trusted adviser, join an industry organization, or call a career coach. Get advice to get ready for the next move.

"The first and second quarter will be slow, but by mid- to end of the second quarter, it will be a much different market than today," Tolan says.

Regain full-time employment. As layoffs swept workplaces in 2009, some employers saved jobs by forcing workers into part-time positions or turning them into contractors. Challenger says 2010 should bring opportunity to change your status. "It's a reasonable goal as companies get busier to turn the work you do into a full-time job. You will need to prove that you are a valuable asset and let them know you want permanent, full-time work."

Cut work demands. If you found yourself carrying a heavy workload in 2009 either to prove you are valuable or because your boss piled it on, don't expect much to change. Unless the organization has a turnaround and starts to hire, it will be nearly impossible to shed responsibilities.

"You may need to go to another organization to accomplish this goal," Challenger says.

Even more, as face time became critical in 2009, telecommuting arrangements and flexible schedules were eliminated.

To reverse this in 2010, if it's a goal, you will need to strengthen communications with your supervisor.

Reclaim work/life balance. Lisa Gates of Craving Balance Coaching says this common goal can be accomplished but it takes focusing on priorities.

"Fear causes us to do more and take on more and say yes when it's the exact opposite of what we need to do," she says.

Gates suggests getting hyper-focused on two or three priorities at work and home, and not allowing any distractions.

"You will have to look at all the demands on your time and ask, 'Is this in line with my priority?' If not, eliminate it," Gates says.

Make a career change or learn new skills. Whether or not you are employed going into the new year, laying the groundwork for change is a reasonable goal.

Hansen of suggests you start with research.

"Look into what education, training or relocation would be required to make a change," he says.

Some courses can be taken online and/or on the weekends.

Grow the business, add new customers or boost revenue. It is possible for a business to grow in this environment, especially if you write specific, measurable goals with a deadline, says Alicia Marie, business coach and owner of Profit Consulting Co. When writing your goals, you must use your history to determine what's in the realm of possibility, she says, "Drill it down to real numbers."

Set realistic workplace expectations for 2010 01/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 4:15pm]
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